Photo of the legs of two young women wearing sneakers and striped leggings.

A thousand words worth a picture?

Being a photographer slowly changes our way of watching the world until we are always seeing and making pictures in our minds. It is both a blessing and a curse as we become aware of the many images we miss when we don’t have our camera with us, or when the photograph simply doesn’t happen.

Photo of an elder woman in a Guanacaste, Costa Rica farm.
Ask, then shoot…
This lady was quite happy to take a break from her daily chores and pose for me. She even gave me time to set up my flash for fill-in. Click to enlarge.

Some weeks ago, as I was leaving from work at the University, I saw a young female student sitting on one of those swings that hung from the trees on Campus. She was close to where I had parked my car. Two things quickly caught my eye: a golden-colored saxophone in her hands and short, green-dyed hair on her head.

A photo of an african-american boy on a pier in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Shoot, then smile back…
I started taking pictures while this boy was sitting on the pier. Then, as he stood up and walked away he noticed me and just smiled. Click to enlarge.

As I walked closer, I noticed a wooden music stand she had set on the ground in front of the swing, holding her music scores. The instrument case and her bag were on the ground by the tree trunk.

She was wearing a tan, long-sleeved knit shirt and black and white, horizontal-striped pants that contrasted with the green grass. Her feet, wearing red canvas tennis sneakers didn’t quite reach the ground.

Just when I was dropping my bag in the car trunk, the sun broke through the clouds and the warm light of the afternoon made her hair shine in sweet backlight. She began warming up for her practice by slowly playing well-articulated music scales.

It was almost too much for me: dozens of photo possibilities started dancing before my eyes, all about the unusual, youthful look of the musician and the seriousness of her artistic practice in such an inspiring setup. I turned on my iPhone camera…

Photo of an asian lady reading a book in New York.
Shoot quietly. Do not disturb…
I did not want to interrupt this young lady’s reading so I just left her alone after quietly taking her photo. Click to enlarge.

Do I have a picture to show? Unfortunately not. Maybe I was not convincing enough. Maybe she was too shy. Maybe it was just not meant to be.

Will she ever know how wonderful was the scene she created? Did other people besides me enjoyed seeing it as much as I did? Perhaps I will never know…

Photo of the legs from two young women wearing sneakers and striped leggings.
Ask for a pose, then have fun… The sneakers and the striped leggings demanded a picture. The young women were happy to let me photograph their legs. Snapseed’s Grunge filter was perfect. Click to enlarge.

My friend and photographer Marco Saborío has a word for pictures that get recorded only in our minds: he calls them Neurochromes.

He couldn’t be more right.

Photo of a man and a Masquerade character smiling at each other.
Shoot from the hip and move on…
This encounter only lasted a moment. I just had time to frame and do one shot before moving on to follow the Masquerade. Click to enlarge.
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